Bongripper – Miserable

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Bongripper
Miserable

Following their split adventures in 2013, with hardcore/grind mob Hate and British doom compadres and everyone’s new favourites Conan, Chicago, Illinois’ Bongripper step back into their own shadows with their latest new album ‘Miserable’ comprises ‘just’ three tracks; ‘just’ because the shortest times at 17:48, while the album closes with a monumental 28:25 monolith. And that’s not without mentioning the supreme Mike Miller artwork, which combines to make a thunderous stallion of a record.

Bongripper have always been one of the most compelling instrumental doom bands to listen to, because this know how to harness a riff and then some. ‘Endless’ is a positive reminder of this – that first riff is thick and chewy like beef biltong, the second a sweet doom chugger – but of course I could go on describing every riff and it would get a bit tedious. Simply, Bongripper still retain the knack of knowing when to dispense with one riff and move onto the next of their seemingly abyssal stack of them, moving from a sense of grooviness to one that sounds ominously evil, and this one is no different, eventually culminating in near enough white noise. ‘Descent’ is equally malevolent, with some of the most thunderous booms ringing in from about nine minutes in, before dropping into a spacey, cavernous outro than perfectly sums up the songs title – it feels lonely, foreboding, even despairing, how you should feel when descending the depths. ‘Into Ruin’ caps off the whole thing with some superb headbang-inducing riffs and more low end crawls before unexpectedly alley-ooping you with a fast stoner-thrash section before dropping back into another tormentous riff. I just love how much they can pack into a song like this when their minds are at it.

This has been available for a little while now and I strongly urge you to check it out if you haven’t already. Links are below – you can stream the whole thing too and you too will find yourselves descending into ruin endlessly.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Miserablehere (download); or here (CD – vinyl presently sold out)

Stream it below:

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‘Kin Hell Fest 2014 Preview – Saturday

Welcome back to our comprehensive preview of ‘Kin Hell Fest 2014. If Friday’s line-up wasn’t enough for you, Saturday’s bill features no less than 15 bands, ranging from the fastest to the slowest, and indeed spanning the modern era of extremity to its very origins. There should be something for you all here. Doors at 12pm Saturday, first band at 1pm. Go!

Esoteric Youth – 13:00-13:25

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Describing themselves as ‘the most evil band out of Manchester since Oasis’, this blackened hardcore crew who have been making inroads into the fulcrum of the UK scene since emerging with their demo in 2012 – their bleak crusty diatribes should prove a wake-up slap in the chops for anyone still recovering from Friday’s madness.

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Gets Worse – 13:40-14:05

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Another local act, these guys were named in our top 10 short releases for 2013 with ‘Negative’. They have no time for false grinders, pit violence, and indeed as Manowar, and a cracking Scottish blog might say, ‘wimps and posers, leave the hall’!

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Wizard’s Beard – 14:20-14:50

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Smashing stoner/sludge metallers in the vein of Iron Monkey, Weedeater, etc. who continue to raise the bar in what is deemed ‘heavy’. Blogs and zines have raved about their records ‘Pure Filth’ and ‘Four Tired Undertakers’, so buckle up and get your grooves on. This is about to get heeeeeavy.

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Noise Complaint – 15:05-15:30

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Cosmopolitan crossover thrashers Noise Complaint are rooted firmly in the UK, bringing together members from the USA, Italy and Brazil. Speed is the name of the game here and you’d be well urged to keep up. These guys are nuts.

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Monolithian – 15:45-16:15

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This Falmouth duo are creating welcome noise in the UK scene for their bleak and heavy jams that outgun and rise above more populous doom bands. Released a cracking split with hardcore crew Let It Die last year.

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Arkham Witch – 16:30-17:00

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Keighley-based traditional heavy/doom metallers with anthems of Lovecraftian horror, upholding metal values, mythology and famous comic books characters among others. Cracking retro worship.

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Acrania – 17:15-17:45

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Brutally pounding death metal from London featuring members of Pathology and Bloodshot Dawn. Brace yourselves – circle pits are coming!

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Jesus Cröst – 18:00-18:30

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Word is this is going to be the last show ever from the Dutch two-piece, who’ve been ploughing out good-time speedy grind for over 15 years now. With that in mind, let’s give them the ravenous send off they deserve.

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Grave Miasma – 18:50-19:25

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Fantastic old-school death metal crew from London who released the future underground classic ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’ in 2013. Being hailed as one of the flagbearers of the old-school renaissance of the genre by many leading blogs and zines, it’s time to fall under their spell.

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Deviated Instinct – 19:40-20:15

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For me, personally, these guys are going to be completely unmissable. Legendary 80’s crust-punks who reactivated in 2007 and put out their first record in 21 years with 2012’s ‘Liberty Crawls to the Sanctuary of Slaves’. This year marks 30 years since their inception, one of the true pioneers of the scene, and fans new and old can expect a raucous and furious show. Expect the pit to go truly nuts at this point.

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Hawk Eyes – 20:30-21:10

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Mad scientists of rock who incorporate elements of punk, hardcore, electronic and all manner of experimentalism to their sound, bothering mainstream rags and trendies as well as accumulating a rabid following. Hometown show for this lot, guaranteed to be packed out.

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Khuda – 21:25-22:05

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They’re back! Following their decision to disband early in 2013, Leeds’ post-rockers Khuda have reformed to record a new album and to play KHF, in doing so returning to the festival where they stole the show according to our occasional scribe Mike who witnessed them back in 2011. A truly awesome experience to watch and a swerve in direction from the madness that precedes it.

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Anaal Nathrakh – 22:25-23:30

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The reigning overlords of British extreme metal arrive in Leeds as Saturday headliners and ready to lay waste to the Vox Warehouse.

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Birdflesh – 23:50-00:25

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One of the most crackers bands to ever raise hell in grind, Swedish trio Birdflesh bring hell to town in a UK exclusive performance. Expect wild costume, bonkers antics and some classic grindcore from the scene freaks.

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The Day Man Lost – 00:40-01:00

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Preston grinders The Day Man Lost reformed to play the festival last year and emerged as one of its highlights. These guys are brutal, easily one of the most essential UK grind bands on the scene, and will provide a perfectly crazy end to the Saturday with short sharp blasts of purified rage.

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Peter Clegg

Mogwai – Rave Tapes

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Mogwai
Rave Tapes
Rock Action

Mogwai are a seemingly enduring force – for the last nineteen, going on twenty years, they’ve never failed to capture the imagination of the critics and enjoy a kinship just on the edge of the mainstream with a reputation that rarely seems to take any sort of battering – a rare thing to say about any one band. I still kick myself for taking ages to get into them, but that’s the price you pay for being a slightly ignorant metalhead in your youth, isn’t it? But I’m having a blast going back through their history at present, which is shelved for the time being owing to the release of another new release for the Scots, their eighth studio album ‘Rave Tapes’. It’s a further departure away from the quiet-loud approach of old, with more elements of their recent work starting to creep in (particularly from their ‘Les Revenents’ soundtrack), and more and more they’re letting songs develop in a meandering, and often dark fashion. They still bludgeon when they feel like it – ‘Hexon Bogon’ and ‘Master Card’ are two relatively standard if pleasing, keyboard-painted riffers – but the real majesty comes from their continuing experimental approach, evident on the spoken word ‘Repelish’, which features a man discussing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, and ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’, a vocoder drenched closer holding a brooding emotional sway of the listener. ‘Blues Hour’, while nothing new, is perhaps the album’s most emotive track, the only conventional vocal – a hushed one at that, it builds superbly, before quietly ushering to a close; just as Mogwai have proved masters of doing time and again. Like the eyes that glow in the shadows, with ‘Rave Tapes’, Mogwai continue to watch over their existence in effective and typical, if ever more austere fashion.

Peter Clegg

Mogwai – The Lord is Out of Control (official video)

Buy ‘Rave Tapes‘ here

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Arbor Lights – Hatherton Lake

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Arbor Lights
Hatherton Lake

It seems post-rock is doing a roaring trade at the moment – almost exclusively the reflective underbelly of all that is rock, always potentially at risk from the mainstream, but always self-aware so as never to expose it too much. An almost never-ending cycle that always births new talent, and in that regard, we come to Arbor Lights, a Birmingham quartet who recently released their first full-length album ‘Hatherton Lake‘. It’s their most ambitious release to date, with song lengths generally longer than their shorter releases. Sadly, I didn’t find this album to be particularly excellent – it seems to take time to really get going and with only five songs that doesn’t really allow for proceedings to begin modestly and without anything to really stand out. It does do well in places as it progresses, especially on the closing section to ‘Silhouettes’, which opens up at the end like the bluest sky to emerge from the blackest storm, and the centrepiece, ‘Damascus’, every bit as beautiful over its dozen minutes, and the closing ‘The Mayor and the Diver’, which possesses much more drive in contrast to much of ‘Hatherton Lake‘s delicacy.

I suppose despite some well crafted instrumentation the whole thing has got to be taking me somewhere in my head – something at this stage in which I’m not finding enough distraction in this band. Still, it’s not a wholly bad thing I don’t enjoy everything about this record – Arbor Lights are clearly a band with potential and I’d be foolhardy to suggest something completely stunning isn’t hidden away in their locker, which if they continue to work hard, their labours will surely come to fruition.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Hatherton Lake‘ here (name-your-price/limited CD)
Stream it below:

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Bongripper/Hate – Split

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Bongripper/Hate
Bongripper/Hate (split)

With their upcoming UK tour with Conan fast approaching, its about time my tardy arse got round to reviewing the split release that Chicago doom heavyweights Bongripper put out with sludge-grind filth rangers and Windy City villains Hate. I should have done so already, what with what I’m about to describe and that awesome Limbo-esque artwork, but hey, life got in the way. So here goes.

The solitary Bongripper track, pleasantly entitled ‘Fisting’, is a quite splendid assault from numerous quarters, showing Bongripper to be able to flit comfortably between doom, sludge, grind and punk inside this one twelve minute track. Anyone familiar to the band’s work will know their pedigree but here they mix between the varying styles to great effect. Building up with sounds reminiscent of a cold, dark, dank subway, the bass looms from the shadows and eventually heralds a nice chunky riff. Once they call your bluff as they threaten to speed up, the second time they do so they don’t muck about, heading into a quick blast before returning to the main lick. And if that wasn’t enough, they provide a sumptuous riff around eight minutes in, which itself morphs into a punk jaunt before finally coming to rest. Phenomenal stuff.

Hate aren’t to be overshadowed though, and their presence here proves that sludge-grind seems to be on the up and up. These guys don’t do things by halves, really going full tilt in all ways including the vocalist who really screams himself hoarse here. For the most part it’s fast stuff, following the crusty hardcore punk path with all kinds of despicable noise coming from their instruments. But they too are capable of slowing the pace right down, as the sludgy goodness of ‘Invisible Man’ shows.

Split releases are enjoying a good stint in popularity among lesser known bands and when they’re as good as what’s on offer here, when two bands can truly match each other blow for blow, the results make winners of us all. Now, go catch Bongripper live, because you’ll never have a greater chance to doom out, get stoned or whatever it is you do at shows nowadays to one of its finest exponents at present.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Bongripper/Hate’ here (name-your-price)
Stream it below:

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Behold the Arctopus – Horrorscension

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Behold The Arctopus
Horrorscension
Black Market Activities 

Colin Marston is a busy busy man. In the five years since the band formerly known as Behold…The Arctopus released ‘Skullgrid’, he’s formed Krallice and recorded four albums with them; two more Dysrhythmia albums; joined the Canadian tech-death metal legends Gorguts’ reunion; and produced a gazillion awesome albums. Well, not quite a gazillion, but that Warr guitar of his must’ve been getting either very dusty or somewhat envious. Now, with the ellipsis dropped to reveal a less dramatic take on their name, Behold The Arctopus have dropped ‘Horrorscension’, with legendary Flying Luttenbachers drummer Weasel Walter enthroning the drummers’ stool for his first BTA-recorded appearance since replacing Charlie Zeleny. 

Covering six songs inside twenty-eight minutes (with the final track making up over a third of that time), and with some terrific artwork to boot, ‘Horrorscension’ is one of the wildest rides you’ll embark upon this year, despite occasionally feeling a bit hit and miss. Founder members Marston and Jim Lerner get every pinch, squeal, drone, crunch and moment of majesty out of their Warr guitar and regular guitar respectively, with Walter driving the tempo to sublime effect. Despite their experimental nature, Behold the Arctopus do manage to retain structure throughout most of this album, which makes it a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Walter said upon joining the band that the new material would be more extreme, and there’s no denying you want to headbang at times, as it sounds so powerful, despite its distorted and twisted forms. ‘Monolithic Dimensions’ is crushing from all aspects, and ‘Horrorsentience’ is a fantastic slab of progressive experimentalism, particular through a Walter-driven march-of-doom dirge towards its conclusion. ‘Deluge of Sores’, the album’s most straightforward track, a thrashy number with Marston providing some delectable low notes amidst a solo-of-sorts from Lerner, and a fine example of ‘Horrorscension’s extreme pedigree.

With experimentation ultimately comes indulgence, and there seems to be too much self-indulgence going on with Marston and Lerner occasionally tapping the cr out of their respective guitars – guilty as charged on ‘Putrefucktion’, killing the momentum they had going – but for the most part its just about restrained enough to actually appreciate what’s going on – if you can get your head around it. Although it’s far from the perfect article, ‘Horrorscension’ is a welcome return from BTA, enough so to warrant a more immediate return, should Marston find time in his already bloated schedule to weedle out slightly more frequent output. 

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Horrorscension’ here

Stream ‘Disintegore’ below:

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